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Raft through the heart of Colorado

Gunnison River

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Gunnison River White Water Rafting Description:

From its official start near Almont, CO the Gunnison transforms from mild whitewater to extremely technical and back again. It flows from the high mountains, through gorges and canyons, eventually winding its way down the western slope toward the Colorado River in Grand Junction.

• Difficulty: Class I-V+(What does this mean?)
• Season: May – September

The Gunnison Gorge in western Colorado is a National Conservation Area and is adjacent to the newly created Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. This 14-mile stretch of gold medal trout water has been nominated for “Wild and Scenic River” designation. Here below the many dams of the national park, the clear green water slips between spectacular towering black granite cliffs, dropping first into glassy pools and then plunging into foaming rapids. The scenery and geology is reminiscent of the Grand Canyon of the Colorado.

We are limited to five launches per summer, with a maximum of 10 guests per trip. We are given guaranteed launch dates each year, although it is possible we can make a trade for a different date for serious inquires only.

For questions about our launch dates or to make an inquiry about a reservation, please call us at 800.462.7238.

The river starts west of Grand Junction near the Continental Divide above Crested Butte Ski Area and flows through the town of Gunnison and on through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. We launch our trips in the Gunnison Gorge at the end of the Chukar Trail west of Delta, Colorado. The whitewater rafting section finishes up near Hotchkiss, Colorado.

Getting to the river requires a moderate mile-long hike down a narrow trail; the boats and group gear are brought into the canyon on horseback the day before the trip. You will need to carry your own personal gear (including sleeping bag, pad and tent) down the trail to the “put-in”. The hike is rewarded with dramatic canyon scenery, picturesque views and remarkable solitude.

Only two groups per day are permitted to raft in the Gorge, assuring you a quality wilderness experience.

Check out these trip requirements and call us at 800.462.7238 to book a white water rafting trip.

Recommended Rafting Trips on The Gunnison River:

Gunnison Gorge Full Day Trip

Raft exciting whitewater in this remote wilderness section of the Gunnison River. Depart near Delta, Colorado – close to Grand Junction – where a downhill hike to the river takes you deep into the stunning Gunnison Gorge and far away from crowds. Suitable for all skill levels and ages 10+, raft with us on limited dates in July-August.

Adult price : $268

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Gunnison Gorge 2 Day Trip

Experience a true wilderness getaway on this rugged and remote section of the Gunnison River. Hike into the beautiful Gunnison Gorge to tackle the fast-paced and challenging rapids on this trip that departs near Delta, Colorado – close to Grand Junction. Suitable for all skill levels and ages 10+, raft with us on limited dates in July-August.

Adult price : $539

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gunnison river sections

Gunnison River Sections

Gunnison River Rafting Sections:

Gunnison Town Run
Class I-II
Mellow run through great mountain scenery conveniently located near Gunnison and Crested Butte. Wilderness Aware does not offer this section due to it’s location. See the resources drop down for more info.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison
Class V+
Highly inaccessible with many unrunnable drops, long portages and an over abundance of poison-ivy. Considered un-raftable and recommended to only experienced kayakers. No commercial outfitters run this section; self-guided only.

Gunnison Gorge
Class III-IV
Exciting white water section set in a stunning black granite gorge, more accessible than the Black Canyon with similar scenery and world-class fishing.

Lower Gunnison River
Class I-II
Easygoing and mild, this section is floats through meadows and ranches with little white water. Wilderness Aware does not offer this section due to it’s location. See the resources drop down for more info.

Dominguez-Escalante Canyon
Class I-II
Scenic and somewhat isolated, this section of river is great for overnight trips with mild rapids and great side canyon hiking. Wilderness Aware does not offer this section due to it’s location. See the resources drop down for more info.

Self-Guided

Information for Gunnison River Self-Guided Boaters:

Gunnison Town Run

The Gunnison River (Gunnison Town Run) is managed by the Bureau of Land Management out of Gunnison, CO.

  • Boating Permit Required: NO
  • Permit Details: No fee of any kind is required to float the river, but you do need to buy a pass to use the BLM managed and private access sites.
  • River Manager: U.S Bureau of Land Management – Gunnison Field Office
    650 South 11th Street, Gunnison, CO 81230
    970.642.4940 

Black Canyon

The Gunnison River through the Black Canyon is in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and is managed by the U.S. National Park Service.

  • Boating Permit Required: YES
  • Permit Details: Permits are free. Registration must be done at designated points. Visit the Black Canyon section page, self-guided boater information, for details on obtaining a permit.
  • River Manager: U.S. National Park Service – Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
    102 Elk Creek, Gunnison, CO 81230
    970.641.2337

Gunnison Gorge, Lower Gunnison & Dominguez-Escalante Canyon

The Gunnison River (Gunnison Gorge, Lower Gunnison and Dominguez-Escalante Canyon) are managed by the Bureau of Land Management out of Montrose, CO.

  • Boating Permit Required: NO
  • Permit Details: No fee of any kind is required to float the river, but you do need to buy a pass to use the BLM managed and private access sites.
  • River Manager: U.S Bureau of Land Management – Uncompahgre Field Office
    2465 S. Townsend Ave, Montrose, CO 81401
    970.240.5300

Shuttles:
If shuttle service is available, information is listed under the specific section page.

Resources

Directions

Directions to the
Gunnison River

Our Gunnison River trips meet at the Gunnison River Pleasure Park near Delta, CO.

Packing List

Packing List and
Pre-Trip Information

Complete lists of what to bring, what we provide, where to meet, policies, rental costs and info.

Additional Helpful Links

Additional Gunnison River Outfitters:

Trip Lengths:
1/2 & Full Day (Gunnison Town)
Outfitter:
Scenic River Tours
Learn More:
www.scenicrivertours.com ~ 970.641.3131

Trip Lengths:
1/2, Full, 2 & 3 Day (Lower & Dom-Esc Canyon)
Outfitter:
Gunnison River Expeditions
Learn More:
www.gunnisonriverexpeditions.com ~ 970.874.8184

reviews

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What people are saying

  • Lydia filled us with confidence. She was skilled and knowledgeable and explained each set of rapids so we knew what to expect. She was great company and we had the best experience. She was brilliant.

    Dwight W. Rafter
  • I cannot wait to come back! Also loved how funny all the guides were. It was the most I’ve seen my sister laugh in a long time! Thank you so much for this amazing experience.

    Lexi R. Rafter
  • I spent several days researching various rafting options and after speaking w/your team was sold. We were not disappointed-the trip is spectacular and our guide Sean was informative, lively professional and entertaining.

    Lauren C. Rafter

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